Why experience matters in teaching

By Francisco Avvisati
Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

It often takes years of reflective practice to master complex, non-routine jobs. And few jobs today are more sophisticated and complex than teaching.

As parents and citizens, we expect students to leave schools not only with a solid foundation in reading, mathematics and other subjects; we also expect students to leave school as lifelong learners, with the ability to think critically about complex issues, and the will to constantly adapt to change. And we expect schools to contribute to the well-being of our children, and to strengthen the fabric of our societies.

Much of the burden of delivering on these expectations falls on teachers, who are the most significant resource in today’s schools. And it is easy for teachers to feel overwhelmed by these expectations, particularly at the beginning of their careers.

There is no doubt that classroom experience is important to develop the skills required for effective teaching…

How technology is enabling new ways of writing

by Joshua Polchar
Policy Analyst, Directorate for Education and Skills

We could be on the brink of a fundamental change in how we produce and use written material.

Changes and improvements in writing technologies have occurred at several points in human history. Our instruments of handwriting have evolved from imprints in clay to brushes and ink, to the now-ubiquitous ballpoint pen (a surprisingly difficult device to perfect). Print and digital reproduction have allowed texts to be mass produced and distributed to audiences numbering in the billions; and smartphones have given us new ways to express ourselves in writing, as evidenced by the widespread use of emoji.

What these changes in writing technology have in common is that they all make the writing process – the physical act of making a mark – faster and more efficient. Historically, the meaning of that mark – its use and the content it signifies – was always determined by a human writer. But this is no longer the case. Computers …

Education at a Glance 2018: on the road to equity in education

By Marie-Helene Doumet
Senior Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

For many in the Northern hemisphere, September means it’s time to head back to school. As students start feeling the excitement of the first day, many parents, policy leaders, and governments are thinking about how to best prepare our children for their future.

One of the most pressing topics on many agendas is how to reduce the achievement gap across populations and ensure that all have access to a quality education. Education serves as the foundation of our progression through life, and policy makers around the world have made it their priority to guarantee that personal and social circumstances – such as gender, socio-economic status or country of origin – do not inhibit personal growth and achievement.

The OECD contributes to the back-to-school debate through the release of its annual flagship publication, Education at a Glance. Set to be published on Tuesday 11 September, the upcoming edition focuses…

The Earth is looking for environmentally mindful students

by Alfonso Echazarra
Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

During the 1970s researchers observed that the amount of ozone in the atmosphere was decreasing moderately and an ozone “hole” was visibly expanding around the polar regions. The idea of a rapidly-growing hole in the atmosphere – which could have fatal consequences for humanity – caught on with the public so strongly that people reduced their use of chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting substances, and compelled companies and governments to take action. In 1987 the Montreal Protocol was signed, phasing out the use of some of these substances in industry. Researchers say that the ozone layer is now recovering, if slowly. This success story is exceptional – see, for instance, the challenges in addressing global warming – but it shows how important it is to increase our youth’s environmental awareness for the future of Earth.

Looking into the environmental awareness of 15-year-olds, this month’s PISA in Focus

Why apprenticeships are a ‘win-win’ for companies and employees

By Amar Toor
Digital Communications Officer, Directorate for Education and Skills

As the founder and executive director of the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), Shea Gopaul spends a lot of her time thinking about the future of work. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and emerging technologies have dramatically altered the skill sets that employers seek today, and the career paths for young adults today look increasingly unclear. But Gopaul thinks apprenticeships can help – both for recent graduates who may be unsure of their next steps, as well as older adults looking to adapt their skill sets to a fast-changing market.

We sat down with Gopaul at the OECD Forum earlier this year to learn more about how apprenticeships can bridge the “skills gap”, and why effective apprenticeship programmes are a “win-win” for both companies and employees.

Apprenticeship is an attractive form of educating young people and preparing them for the labour market, and many countries have been …

Higher education and the “new model of learning”

By Amar Toor
Communications and Digital Officer, Directorate for Education and Skills

In an article published in 2017, University of Sydney economics professor Colm Harmon argues that the challenge facing today’s university students is one of “ambiguity”.

“They have more options on many fronts, but face a world that is closing in around them,” Harmon writes. “They have accepted that they will perhaps have more than one career, and that they may be training for a type of work that could be jilted out of existence at any point by the forces of globalisation and technology.”

Harmon, who is also Vice Provost at the University of Sydney, acknowledges that it’s difficult to predict how future graduates will navigate this new world, or how institutions of higher education will evolve in response to it. But in an interview on the sidelines of the OECD Forum, he shared his thoughts about what he envisions as a “new model of learning” – one in which institutions take “a long-term stake in their …

Being good at maths could be good for your health

By Nicolas Jonas
Analyst, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills

Photo credit: Roman Mager/Unsplash
The Survey of Adult Skills, part of the OECD’s Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), is a key source of information on adults’ proficiency in the information-processing skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies – including numeracy skills. PIAAC data reveal large disparities in numeracy proficiency not only across countries, but between different adult subgroups within countries, as well. Poor numeracy has detrimental effects in many aspects of life, as adults must be able to use numeracy skills in many professional and everyday situations – for example when making decisions, dealing with numerical information, or trying to assess the relevance of figures.

A new OECD working paper analyses data from the Survey of Adult Skills to identify the links between adult proficiency in numeracy and the intensity of numeracy use in everyd…